You’re thinking about taking up the fun and exciting hobby that is metal detecting. Good for you! But first, you need to get a metal detector. There’s no shortage of metal detectors out there; in fact, it seems like there’s an endless supply. With so many options to choose from, trying to figure out which one to pick can seem like a daunting task.
While there are plenty of inexpensive metal detectors that are geared toward beginners, the problem is, a lot of them are nothing more than toys. Sure, they can detect metal, but usually, they can only target metal items that are located near the surface of the ground. You want something that offers robust features and can be used to help you score some real treasures. Fortunately, there are several metal detectors that offer high-quality features and will accommodate all types of budgets.
To assist you with finding the right tool, we’ve put together this handy guide. In it, you’ll find our top three picks for metal detectors for beginners, as well as some valuable information that you can use to help you make your selection.
Top 3 Picks
Best Pick: Garrett Ace 300
- Garrett ACE 300 Metal Detector with submersible Searchcoil
- Includes 3 FREE Accessories:
- Volume control Garrett ClearSound Easy Stow headphones
- ACE Environmental Coverup
- 7" x 10" Searchcoil Cover
Garrett is one of the most trusted names in the metal detecting industry, and their Ace 300 certainly lives up to the manufacturer’s reputation. With enhanced audio capabilities, a submersible coil, frequency adjustment, and electronic pinpointing, it can locate all types of buried treasure at varying depths. It also comes complete with three free accessories: a search coil cover, headphones, and an ACE environmental cover up.
Best Premium Pick: Minelab Equinox 600
- Simultaneous Multi-Frequency: True intelligent Simultaneous Multi-Frequency for maximum performance, plus a wide range of single frequencies.
- Waterproof Design: EQUINOX is fully submersible, ideal for detecting at the beach and in rivers, streams and lakes. (3m / 10-feet)
- Sleek & Lightweight: Rugged and lightweight construction allows you to enjoy long detecting sessions in any environment.
- Wireless Audio Compatible: Compatible with ultra-fast wireless audio with the WM 08, and fast aptX Low Latency / Bluetooth headphones.
- 6 Custom Search Profiles: Each Detect Mode features 2 custom Search Profiles so you can save your favorite settings in each mode.
If you have a healthy budget and don’t mind spending a bit more, consider our pick for the best premium metal detector: the Minelab Equinox 600. It’s lightweight, versatile, easy to use, waterproof, and offers a wealth of features, such as six custom search profiles and simultaneous multi-frequency, you’ll be able to target an assortment of items, from antique coins to gold nuggets – and so much more!
Best Budget Pick: Fisher F22
- Weatherproof all-purpose metal detector
- Visual target-id by category
- Operates on 2 aa batteries (25-30 hours)
- Fe-tone (adjustable iron audio)
The Fisher F22 is a great option for beginners who don’t want to break the bank, yet want a reliable and durable metal detector that they can use to target more than just surface-deep rubbish. It’s weatherproof, so it can be used in all types of conditions, and it boasts an iron audio feature that can help you tell the difference between bottle caps, pull tabs, and other metal bits that aren’t worth your time digging for from actual scores, such as coins.
Top 3 Reviews
Garrett Ace 300
Beginner metal detectors will get everything they need (and more) without having to spend a fortune with the Garrett Ace 300. This metal detector is durably constructed, easy to operate, and provides reliable readings.
The Ace 300 replaced the previous (and now defunct) Ace 250, one of Garrett’s most popular metal detectors. The manufacturer made some enhancements on their Ace 250; for example, a digital target ID (0-99) has replaced the notch target ID on the previous model, which makes for identification faster and more accurate.
It also boasts more advanced audio features and a larger search coil with better iron resolution, and higher frequencies, which makes it easier to detect an assortment of targets, such as jewelry, coins, precious metals, and relics.
The stem of the Ace 300 is outfitted with cam locks, which provides a lot more stability. Plus, the price is just right for novice metal detectors who don’t want to invest a lot when they’re just starting out.
- Digital Target ID. The addition of a digital target ID coupled with a segment-based discrimination system has really made the Ace 300 a step up from its predecessor, the Ace 250, as it makes it easier to identify targets. The Digital Target uses a numerical scale that ranges from 0 to 99 and identifies the conductivity of a target. The higher the number on the scale the higher the conductivity of the target. Precious metals have a higher conductivity while low-conductivity metals will have a lower reading on the scale; for example, silver targets will reach somewhere in the 90s, metals with a mid-range conductivity, such as aluminum or gold, will range between 40 and 60 on the scale, while targets that are made of iron will likely range somewhere between 0 to 30 on target ID. With this technology, you can accurately tell the difference between a penny that’s made of zinc or copper simply by reading the numbers on the digital target.
- Improved iron resolution. In regard to iron detection, the Ace 300 offers more segments than the Ace 250; in fact, it offers twice as much iron detection segments. As such, it does a better job of screening out rubbish targets that are made of iron. Additionally, it enhances the metal detector’s ability to differentiate between garbage targets from neighboring worthwhile targets.
- Adjustable frequency. Though it isn’t a feature that’s likely to be used too often by beginners, it can certainly come in handy if you ever need it. The frequency of the Ace 300 is 8 kHz, but that can be slightly adjusted when the need arises. For example, if you’re hunting with a group of people who are also using 8 kHz frequency metal detectors, you can adjust the frequency on your device. The same is true if you run into interference from WiFi signals or cell phone towers.
- Search modes. Also known as discrimination patterns, search modes can be a real help if you would ever like to focus your hunt to targets of a specific nature; jewelry or antique coins, for example. There’s a total of five search modes on the Ace 300:
- Zero, or no discrimination
These search modes eliminate specific segments from the advanced Target ID Scale. Though targets will still show up on the display, if they don’t match segments that correspond to the selected mode, an audio sound will not be emitted. In other words, you can overlook the things you aren’t hunting for.
In addition to the key features listed above, the Garrett Ace 300 metal detector also boasts:
- 8 sensitivity adjustments that control depth and prevent false targets.
- 3 audio tone levels, including low, medium, and high.
- Electronic pinpointing mode, to better lock-in on your targets.
- A depth indicator that provides a basic idea of how deep you’ll need to dig your plug.
- A 7”x10” submersible search coil
On top of all that, it also comes complete with three additional accessories:
- A search coil cover
- Garrett’s ClearSound, easy stow, volume control headphones
- An ACE environmental coverup
- A 7”x10” submersible search coil
- Digital Target ID with a 0 to 99 scale
- Adjustable frequencies
- Enhanced iron resolution
- Five search modes (zero, jewelry, custom, relics, coins)
- Easy to operate
- Comes with three extra features
- Affordably priced
- Lacks iron audio
- Missing adjustable ground balance
Minelab Equinox 600
For the novice who doesn’t mind spending a bit more money and would like to invest in a higher-end device, the Minelab Equinox 600 is our premium pick. Minelab is known for the premium-quality products they offer, and the Equinox 600 is no exception.
Yes, it’s a bit pricier than other models that you’ll see featured on our list, but that’s because it offers some pretty advanced features.
This high-end, top-quality metal detector is comfortable to operate and easy to use, so it definitely won’t overwhelm those who are just beginning to explore metal detecting. In fact, it’s marketed toward those who have no previous experience in metal detecting; experienced hunters will enjoy the advanced features, too.
For example, multi-frequency technology will let you comb over a location with multiple frequencies all at once and can detect all types of objects at all sorts of depths. That’s thanks to the lower frequencies, which work deeper and on bigger treasures, and higher frequencies can detect smaller sized objects that are located at a minimal depth.
That means that you won’t need to switch the frequencies and scan over the same area several times to ensure you didn’t skip offer something that could be valuable.
Another handy feature that the Equinox 600 offers is wireless headset compatibility, which enhances your comfort while you’re scanning. Three pre-set search modes (park, beach, and field) allow you to pick the best indications for the locations you’re hunting.
It also has six custom modes, two for each of the preset modes. The Equinox 600 is also waterproof and can be submersed up to 10 feet, meaning that you can search for targets underwater, too! Highly versatile, durable, easy to operate, and comfortable to use, it’s no wonder why this metal detector is our top premium pick.
- Simultaneous Multi-Frequency technology. The multi-frequency capabilities of the Minelab Equinox 600 are powered by the manufacturer’s advanced Simultaneous Multi-Frequency technology. This feature uses Multi-Frequency In-Phase and Quadrature Synchronous Demodulation. Basically, when a frequency is combined with a location, the field of the metal detector’s coil adjusts based on the amount of rubbish, as well as the changes in mineralization in the soil. In other words, with multi-frequency technology, several frequencies are sent into the ground at the same time. As such, this metal detector is both stable and time-sensitive.
- Multiple detect modes. The Equinox 600 boats three pre-set detect modes – beach, field, and park – and there are two custom search profiles for each detect mode, for a total of four search modes. Each detect mode provides optimal search capabilities for the most commonly scanned terrains. When scanning in environments that are prone to high levels of trash, park mode is the setting to use; it’s also the metal detector’s default mode and the ideal setting for novice hunters. The field mode setting is ideal for areas where trash levels tend to be low; on farm land, for example. It’s more sensitive to smaller items, too (but do be aware that it does detect more rubbish than park mode). Beach mode is specifically designed to scan both the sand and the water. This setting ground balances for sand and salt water, yet still maintains a high degree of sensitivity. Since each detect mode offers two custom search profiles, you can save your favorite setting for each of the three modes.
- Waterproof and fully submersible. The Equinox 600 is fully waterproof and is safe to submerse in depths of up to 10 feet. That means you can use the detector to scan more areas than you would be able to with most standard metal detectors that are geared toward beginners.
In addition to the above-mentioned key features, the Minelab Equinox 600 also boast the following features, which make it a highly versatile, stable, reliable, and easy to use metal detector:
- 4 frequency options: 5 kHz, 10 kHz, 15 kHz, and multi
- Wireless headset compatibility
- 11-inch DD coil
- The software can be updated
- Large screen with multiple backlight modes
- Automatic and manual ground balance
- Volume control
- Noise canceling technology
- Rugged design and durably built
- Lightweight and easy to operate
- Advanced features make it easier accurately detect targets in various locations
- Customizable search modes
- Waterproof up to 10 feet
- Large, 11 inch DD coil
- It has an in-built battery and the battery life is relatively short
- Wireless headphones are not included
- The length can’t be adjusted
- While the price is affordable for the technology offered, it does cost more than comparable metal detectors
If you’re on the market for a budget-friendly and easy to use, yet reliable metal detector, the Fisher F22 is a great choice. As the first manufacturer of mass-produced metal detectors, the Fisher brand is highly reputable and their products are well-designed, durably built, and boast some pretty great features, as their F22 model clearly illustrates.
The updated version of the previous F2, which was the leading metal detector for beginners since 2007, the F22 offers more advanced technologies and features that are usually only found on higher end metal tools.
It offers more search modes than its predecessor, the F2, it has an enhanced coil design, the volume can be adjusted, and it offers iron audio. The control box is more compact than that of the F2, and it’s weatherproof, too.
No previous knowledge or experience is needed to operate this easy to use metal detector, making it the perfect option for entry-level hunters who want a reliable tool that can be used to find an assortment of treasures in various settings.
- Multiple search modes. The Fisher F22 metal detector features four different search modes:
- Jewelry – this setting discriminates all types of iron targets
- Coin – in addition to discriminating iron objects, this mode also discriminates common types of trash, such as pull tabs and screws
- Artifact – this setting does not discriminate any item and includes signals from all types of iron
- Custom – using a notch feature, you can set a custom patter with this mode
- Search coil. The F22 boasts a triangulated, elliptical concentric search coil that measures 9” in size. This coil is smaller than the coil that was featured on the F2, and it does a great job of selecting targets that are worth your while. The compact, narrow design is also idea for using in tight locations; between rocks, for example. Additionally, the coil can be fully submersed in shallow depths of water; however, do keep in mind that the control box is weatherproof only, so avoid submersing it in water.
- LCD ID Screen. The Fisher F22 features a nicely sized, easy to read LCD screen. From the screen, you can read several indicators, including:
- A two-digit number target ID, which ranges from 1 to 99. This target ID take the conductivity of the metal found, the size of the target, and the position of the target in the ground. Objects that contain high iron levels will receive readings between 1 and 19, zinc coins receive readings between 50 and 59, the readings of copper coins range between 60 and 69, and for silver coins, the reading is between 70 and 79. The target ID makes it a lot easier to determine what objects you’re scanning over and whether or not a target is worth digging for.
- Target depth indicator, which lets you know approximately how deep a target is.
- An iron indicator, which lets you discriminate between signals that are being sent from iron trash; perfect when you’re targeting jewelry, coins, or precious metals.
- Current search mode, which lets you switch back and forth between different discrimination patterns quickly and with ease.
- 4 audio tones. The F22 from Fisher has four different tones: base, low, medium, and high. These tones can be used in combination with the 1-99 target ID to give you a better idea of the target that you’re scanning.
- Iron audio. Iron audio, or FeTone, is a feature that usually isn’t offered on beginner metal detectors. It magnifies iron signals so you can avoid digging trash targets. If you’re planning on hunting for jewelry or coins, this feature will come in super handy.
- Iron identifier icon
- 69 kHz operating frequency
- Static pinpoint
- Adjustable sensitivity and volume
- Non-volatile memory for saving settings
- Waterproof coil
- 4 operating modes
- 4-tone audio ID
- Iron audio tone
- Notch discrimination system
- Lightweight design
- Easy to ready display
- Easy to operate
- Target ID (1-99)
- Fast recovery speed
- Weatherproof control box
- Affordably priced
- Lacks manual ground balance
- The coil is only 9”, which is smaller than the coils on other metal detectors featured on this list
Other Best Selling Options
If you are looking for something else, these are the top 4 best selling metal detectors right now.
- FIND BURIED TREASURE – The 7.5” waterproof dual coil has adjustable sensitivity to help avoid false positives. The detector will beep and flash an LED light when it locates metal and has a detecting depth of up to 6 inches deep for small coins and metal objects.
- GREAT FOR KIDS – A telescoping arm provides length adjustment while a padded arm strap and comfort grip make this metal detector easy to use for kids of all sizes. Makes a great outdoor gift for boys and girls!
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORTABLE – The detector weighs just 1.4 lb (0.6kg). With the coil folded and arm support removed, it measures just 24-inches, and extends up to 39 inches long. Use at home, or pack it up for easy travel to any of your favorite treasure hunting spots!
- FULL-COLOR LEARNING GUIDE – Learn the history of metal detectors, how the coils on your detector work to find metal buried underground, and much more in our detailed learning guide.
- SATISFACTION GUARANTEED – The National Geographic STEM series provides kids high-quality educational toys that are a whole lot of fun! If your experience is anything less than extraordinary, let us know so we can make it right for you.
- Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
- Motion All-Metal mode, Discrimination mode, and 2-Tone audio mode
- Preset ground balance neutralizes response to mineral content in the ground
- Disc/notch control distinguishes between targets and unwanted metals
- Rugged metal detector ideal for detecting treasure in extreme ground conditions
- 👉HIGH ACCURACY & WATERPROOF SEARCH COIL: A nice metal detector for adults & kids. The metal detector search coil is 10 inches, it detects coin-size targets up to 8 inches deep, and larger target up to 4 feet, let you detecting more efficient and time-saving. Waterproof search coil enables you to use detecting to underwater, Perfect for outdoor, like beach, stream, yard. (Note: the control box is not waterproof)
- 👉3 STRONG MODES OF OPERATIONS: OMMO metal detector has 3 distinct modes that make you can optimize from in detecting metals. ① All Metal Mode - Metal detectors notify you whenever it sees any metal. ② Disc Mode - you can utilize this metal finder to discriminate against other types of metal for a specific one. ③ Pinpoint – According to your environment to choose the different positioning strength, aids in the detection of metals by beeping
- 👉INTUITIVE LCD DISPLAY: OMMO outdoor metal detector with an LCD screen to display, obviously more accurate and convenient that you can see the detection mode, sensitivity level, battery condition, and volume level. You can get information intuitively from the screen and it can metal up to the 8-inch depth
- 👉HUMANITY DESIGN & ADJUSTABLE: Don't worry about the length of the stem, this is also a suitable metal detector for kids, the stem can be adjusted from 30 inches to 41-inch, suitable for different height. And the armrest design will help you to save more effort, makes you more comfortable and less stressful. Let's start your treasure hunt with the lovely OMMO waterproof metal detector
- 👉FULL ACCESSORIES, YOU ARE WORTH IT: You can not only get a Metal Detector but also have Carrying Bag, 2×9V Battery, Shovel, and Headphone (it has a headset jack that can be used with conventional headsets). This kind of gold and silver metal detectors is easy to use, suitable for beginners
- 【Adjustable Humanity Design】: Equipped with 40.55”to 47.24” adjustable stem applicable to all age metal detector enthusiasts. Comfortable armrest design allows you to enjoy the detection process. Definitely a great gift for adults and kids for outdoor activities.
- 【Intuitive LCD Display】: Large color LCD display allows you to get the detection dynamics at any time. It’s convenient for you to get the type of metal target, depth of target, recognition, sensitivity level, operating mode and battery indication. With a 3.5mm audio jack, you can connect it to headphones (included).
- 【ALL METAL&DISC &PINPOINT】: All metal mode can identify different types of metals including coins, jewelry, gold and silver. DISC mode discriminates the specific metal being detected. With precise positioning function, accurately helps you to locate the target.
- 【8.7 Inch Waterproof Search Coil】: The 8.7 inch diameter search coil can reach up to 8” depth underground. The waterproof stem and coil(*the control box is not waterproof) allow you to explore lost metal items in shallow water, field, park or on the beach, greatly improve detection efficiency.
- 【You Will Get】: In the package, it includes: 1x Metal Detector, 1x Shovel, 1x Carrying Bag, 1x User Manual. The detector requires 2 9V batteries, which are not included in the kit. Contact us any time if there are any questions. We will help you solve in time.
- The Gold Digger can be used anywhere to search for all kinds of valuable metal from gold coins to iron relics
- Motion all-metal mode and trash elimination control help you find only the treasure you want
- Identifies coin-size objects up to 6 inches deep underground, and senses larger items up to 2 feet deep
- Includes headphones for private searches in crowded places
- Certified Frustration-Free Packaging
Metal Detectors for Beginners Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve reviewed our three top metal detectors for beginners picks, let’s dive in and discuss what you should be looking for when you’re shopping.
First, it’s important to note, that there isn’t a specific all-around “best” metal detector for beginners. The truth is, each of the products listed in this guide – and various other metal detectors that you’ll find when you’re shopping – are high-quality and boast a range of features.
With that said, when looking for the best metal detector, you really need to take into consideration your specific needs. In other words, what type of treasures you’ll be aiming to target, what you intend on hunting, your price range, and of course, your experience level.
Below, we’ll look at each of these factors so that you can choose the “best” metal detector for you.
Level of Experience
The first factor that you should take into consideration when you’re shopping for a metal detector is your level of experience. Have you ever been metal detecting before? If you haven’t, then starting with a metal detector that is specifically designed for entry-level use is highly recommended. Choosing a metal detector that’s too advanced for your skill level is a sure-fire way to end up getting frustrated. You want to enjoy your experience, and choosing the right metal detector will help you do just that.
Every metal detector detects metal; however, the additional features and enhancements is what makes the difference between a metal detector that will find actual – and potentially valuable – targets, and trash. The goal is to locate items that are worth your while, such as coins, relics, jewelry, and precious metals; not pull tabs from soda cans and rusty nails.
Choose a metal detector that’s geared toward beginners and is easy to use, yet offers more advanced technologies that can differentiate between targets that are worth your while and those that you shouldn’t bother with.
Metal detectors vary largely in price. Really high-end models that are geared toward advanced hunters can cost upwards of a thousand dollars, if not more! When you’re just starting out, there’s absolutely no need to spend that much; and, there’s no need to have all of the features that higher-end, costlier models offer.
You can also find metal detectors that are priced at under $100. While the price is certainly appealing, avoid the temptation to buy one of these super low-priced metal detectors. Essentially, there nothing more than a toy and while they may be able to detect metal, typically, they lack any features that can be used to differentiate between garbage and targets that are actually worth your time. Therefore, unless you don’t mind locating and digging up bottle tops and screws, you’ll be wasting your money on a super low-priced metal detector.
How much should you be looking to spend? For beginners, the ideal price range is between $150 and $300. Anything that falls underneath this price range just isn’t worth it. Machines that are priced in this range offer plenty of capabilities for a beginner to discriminate between rubbish and potentially valuable targets, are durably built, and are easy to use; all factors that are important for hunters that are just starting out.
What You Intend on Hunting
The type of targets you intend on hunting should also be taken into consideration when you’re shopping for your first metal detector. Though the majority of metal detectors for beginners are designed to be used for multi-purpose hunting – they can be used to detect various types of precious metals, coins, and relics – some machines are better at detecting certain types of targets.
- Jewelry and coins. While most metal detectors are made to locate jewelry and coins, it’s important to note that you should avoid purchasing a machine that has a frequency that’s too high; in other words, one that is made to locate gold. Another point to make, frequency and depth are inter-related. The higher the frequency, the less depth you’ll be able to locate objects that are the size of coins or jewelry. Metal detectors that have a kHz of less-than 15 are what you should be looking for if you’re planning on hunting for jewelry and coins. A VLF, single frequency metal detector will do just fine for all-purpose hunting of jewelry and coins.
- The same kHz rules discussed above apply to hunting for relics. Most machines that are made for beginners will work to locate relics. However, if you’re planning on searching for more involved relic hunting, you should consider investing in features like a large coil size, a frequency that’s a bit higher (10 to 20 kHz), iron audio, and an adjustable threshold.
Key Features to Consider
So, what type of features should you be looking for in a beginner metal detector? Here’s a look at some technologies that will make your experience easier and more enjoyable.
- Multi-frequency. Metal detectors that offer multi-frequency settings will help you find a larger array of targets at varying depths. However, do keep in mind that these machines tend to have a higher price tag.
- Concentric or DD stock coils. There are several kinds of coil configurations, but the most commonly used are concentric and DD. The former are more budget-friendly and can make it easier to pinpoint a target, while the latter offers better detection depth and can better handle mineralization in the ground.
- Size of the stock coil. The size of the stock coil is another important factor to consider. Typically, the larger the coil, the deeper the metal detector will be able to go. With that said, however, going with the largest sized coil isn’t always the best option. It really depends on what you’re looking for, as well as the conditions and the mineralization of the ground. Larger coils do get better depth, but they also see more ground, so they have to process more signals in mineralized ground, which can result in missing targets, ineffective target ID, and a lot of falsing. As such, a smaller coil is a better option because they are more sensitive and are better at targeting.
- A screen. The majority of experienced hunters rely mainly on sound to locate their targets; however, for beginners, a screen is definitely useful. Screens display various types of important information, such as the depth of a target, the possible identification of a target, batter life, and more.
- Lastly, you should consider the weight of the metal detector. Generally, the lighter the metal detector, the easier it will be to handle and operate. However, do make sure that the machine is durably constructed and made of high-end materials.
Metal Detector FAQ
Though our guide to metal detectors for beginners has covered a lot of information, there may be some things that you’re wondering about that we didn’t cover. Here, we’ll go over some of the most frequently asked questions that beginners have about metal detectors to further ensure that you can find the answers to any questions that you may have.
How do Metal Detectors Work?
Metal detectors feature a search coil, and that coil sends out an electromagnetic field into the ground. Metal objects (known as targets) that are located within the electromagnetic field the metal detector puts out become energized, and those objects retransmit their own electromagnetic field. The search coil of the metal detector than receives the retransmitted field that the metal objects have created and sends a signal to the detector, or a “target response”.
What is “falsing”?
The term “falsing” refers to false signals, or “phantom” signals. They appear whenever a metal detector responds to metal when in reality, no metal is in the area. Typically, false signals are the result of naturally-occurring iron oxides in the ground; hematite and magnetite, for example. Machines that offer automatic and manual ground balancing can help you deal with falsing. In areas of high ground mineralization, lower the sensitivity of the detector to reduce phantom signals.
How do operating frequencies affect results?
Generally speaking, the lower the frequency, the deeper it will be able to penetrate the ground. However, at low frequencies, the sensitivity to small targets that have low conductivity is minimized. The higher a detector’s frequency is, the more sensitive it will be to small targets; but, it won’t penetrate as deeply.
Metal detecting is a fun and exciting hobby that, with the right metal detector, can be really enjoyable and grow into a pastime that you may become really passionate about. When you’re just starting out, you don’t need to invest a bundle or get the highest end model. Keep the information discussed in this guide in mind and consider purchasing one of the three metal detectors that we highlighted.